Minister Mustapa expressed Malaysia’s support for China’s initiatives to advance the process to undertake concrete actions towards the realisation of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) in a comprehensive and systematic manner. In Qingdao earlier in May, Trade Ministers agreed that APEC would remain as a non-binding, voluntary forum and provide intellectual inputs into the FTAAP process. They also agreed that FTAAP when agreed, will be pursued outside of APEC.
FTAAP is envisaged to be a comprehensive FTA that is built on existing and on-going FTAs in the region such as the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). To date, APEC economies have already implemented 51 intra-APEC FTAs.
“Malaysia fully supports the Beijing Roadmap for APEC’s Contribution to the Realisation of an FTAAP. We welcome the collective strategic study on FTAAP and are committed to cooperate in its work.”
Minister Mustapa also highlighted that Malaysia, as one of founding members of APEC, has benefitted from its technical assistance and capacity building programmes, as well as sharing of best practices among economies. These have enabled Malaysia to undertake our own trade and investment liberalisation initiatives and at the same time benefit from liberalisation of other APEC members.
“Malaysia has eliminated import tariffs on almost 65% of our tariff lines. Our average tariff now stands at 5.6%. We have also undertaken autonomous services and investment liberalisation.
As a facilitation measure, Malaysia has already implemented the National Single Window which is an online system of customs declaration that has reduced time and cost for exporters and importers”, he added.
The average applied MFN tariff across the APEC economies has declined from 16.9% in 1989 to 5.7% today.
Over the ten years, APEC trade facilitation measures have reduced trade transaction costs by 5%, resulting in total savings of US$59 billion for businesses. Investment facilitation has improved transparency, predictability and simplification of investment procedures across APEC member economies.
As a middle-income economy, Malaysia acknowledged the benefits brought about by APEC initiatives in addressing the middle-income trap and pushing economies to achieve higher income status.
“As the chair of ASEAN next year, Malaysia looks forward to leading initiatives towards deepening regional economic integration”, he added.
Minister also stressed that it is essential for APEC to improve the implementation of the various measures agreed among economies. APEC should remain as a constructive forum to exchange best practices among members.
APEC economies agreed that APEC’s initiatives have significantly contributed towards opening up trade and investment in the region and facilitating movement of goods, services and people. APEC should continue to remain as a forum to discuss comprehensive trade and investment issues for greater economic integration.
What is important is for APEC to implement all its agreed programmes and initiatives as planned. This will drive economic growth, provide jobs to the young people and enhance the role of the private sector.
Ministry of International Trade and Industry
7 November 2014, Beijing